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This article is taken from PN Review 33, Volume 10 Number 1, September - October 1983.

Outside Modernism: Robert Frost and Edward Thomas Cullen Pratt Hornaday

THE interest in Edward Thomas sparked by the celebration of the centenary of his birth in 1878 has produced some very enlightening work on this long-neglected poet. In the process of rediscovering and evaluating Thomas, some discoveries have also been made about his too well-known friend, Robert Frost. The closeness of the friendship, revealed chiefly through their correspondence in the years 1915-1917, is remarkable considering what otherwise introverted individuals they were. It is to the credit of both men, but Frost more surprisingly displays a generosity, sympathy and affection for the English poet which is missing from most of his other literary acquaintances. After Thomas's death, Frost wrote to Amy Lowell, "The closest I ever came in friendship to anyone in England or anywhere else in the world I think was with Edward Thomas. . . . He more than anyone else was accessory to what I had done and was doing." The unusual relationship of these two poets, their striking temperamental and artistic similarities as well as their less obvious differences, makes a fascinating study in itself; but a more important question involves their relationship to the mainstream of modern poetry in English, if we may chart that through Imagism and Symbolism, from both of which Frost and Thomas are generally set apart.

The history of their brief friendship begins in October of 1913 during Frost's visit to England. Throughout 1914 the poets met often but their only extended period together was an August vacation when ...


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